Anne Dawson, senior trade advisor for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), has been named the recipient of USMEF’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award. The award, which recognizes an individual for his or her leadership and lifetime contributions toward the achievement of USMEF’s export goals, will be presented Nov. 2 at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Arizona.
Dawson is in her 19th year of service with FAS. Before taking her current position in 2007, she served as an international economist focusing on Asia-related agricultural access issues. This included early implementation of Taiwan’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession terms and conditions and providing support for implementation of China’s agricultural obligations under the WTO.
“I am very surprised and humbled to receive this award from USMEF,” Dawson said. “I have worked on many challenging issues over the years, but there has also been tremendous work done by people above me and people alongside me. So I am truly honored by this selection, but I think it really speaks well of the constructive relationship many people here at USDA have with the meat and livestock industries. Certainly there are stresses and differences of opinion at times on the best way to address difficult issues, but we have a very open dialogue and the industry provides us with a lot of valuable feedback.”
Since 2003, Dawson has worked collaboratively with USDA colleagues and impacted industries to address market closures and market access restrictions resulting from the first detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States. She has been responsible for coordinating negotiations addressing beef access restrictions in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as access for U.S. lamb in Taiwan. She continues to coordinate similar USDA interagency efforts to regain access for other ruminant products that are still restricted or banned due to BSE. One of the recent highlights of these BSE-related efforts was the reopening of China to U.S. beef after an absence of more than 13 years.
“We hit a huge wall about four or five years ago due to China’s insistence that the United States be able to trace animals back to the birth farm of origin,” she explained. “The industry provided excellent analysis as to why China was requiring this and was able to bring a coordinated plan to the U.S. government as to how this requirement would be met. Once this was accomplished, it opened the door for us to address all the other outstanding issues with China and finally reach an agreement earlier this year.”
Dawson also monitors many sanitary and food safety issues related to red meat trade and assists her USDA colleagues in their efforts to address ongoing prohibitions and restrictions on veterinary drugs. She praised the input received from USMEF as a reliable and valuable resource.
“The work USDA performs overseas just could not be done without this support,” Dawson said. “USMEF’s Denver headquarters is the first point of entry into the industry assessment of the export markets, but USMEF staff members overseas are equally critical to this process. They have contacts on the ground that are absolutely essential if we are going to gather the information we need to have effective negotiations with our trading partners.”
USMEF CEO Philip Seng also highlighted the strong working relationship USMEF has with USDA, and noted that Dawson’s role is one that is often underappreciated.
“USMEF is pleased to recognize Anne with our Distinguished Service Award, but it’s just a small token of appreciation for all of her work on behalf of U.S. animal agriculture,” Seng said. “For every market access breakthrough that is announced and every happy celebration marking the arrival or return of U.S. meat to an international market, there are countless hours of difficult – and often frustrating – work put in by Anne and her colleagues that the public never sees or hears about. Without this type of dedication and persistence, our industry could never enjoy the growth it has achieved internationally.”
A native of Alabama, Dawson was raised on a small family farm in the Gulf Coast region that included cattle and vegetable production. She is a graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and received a Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California.